Otter Valley soccer standout signs on with UVM

OLIVA WHITE, CENTER, with her parents John and Lori White, at her Nov. 13 media event announcing her intent to play soccer for UVM on a full athletic scholarship next fall. The Otter Valley senior is the first student from the school to be offered a full athletic scholarship to UVM in any sport. Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

Believe the hype. 

That’s what most people say after watching Olivia White play soccer. 

White, 17, is the only Otter Valley Union High School student to be offered a full ride to the University of Vermont on an athletic scholarship. In any sport, boy or girl. 

White announced her decision to play soccer for UVM at a press conference on Nov. 13. The news came two years after White verbally committed to the school as a sophomore and was courted by the likes of Middlebury, Princeton, Ohio State and Northeastern. 

So, after years of being a standout player on every team she’s been on, and being recruited by colleges and clubs beginning in the 8th grade, what keeps White grounded? 

“I had to work for everything,” she said. “When I was on the boys team up north, they treated me very poorly, and I was determined to be treated better, so I worked hard every day, every practice, and I finally proved them wrong. I’m very confident, but I see no reason to brag about anything. There’s always someone better than you.” 

She made Vermont’s Olympic Development Team while playing for Synergy FC Boys soccer club, that team up north in Burlington. She was the first player from North America chosen to attend Bayern Munich Academy’s in Munich, Germany. She returned to the states and played for a U.S. National team coaches club, FC Stars Massachusetts. 

White is the daughter of John and Lori White of Pittsford. She has an older brother, Jacob, 19, who is a student at Castleton University. John White has been his daughter’s coach all of her life, including the last two years as OV girls varsity soccer coach, and is responsible for her very technical style of play. He played indoor soccer professionally for a short time, and said that UVM’s woman’s soccer program is a good fit for his daughter. 

“When you see Olivia score, they’re mostly fantastic goals,” he said. “She worked for those goals… Me being a soccer purist, there is a difference. Even her national team coach, that’s what they look for, that’s what they want. They want the player who can do it.”

UVM is a good fit off the field as well. White wants to study physical therapy, and UVM Medical School has a good program. But it was UVM women’s varsity soccer coach Kristi Huizenga that really made White choose the Catamounts. 

“Since I’m not 5’10”, I play a very technical game, so quick passes, dribbling, first touch… other schools play boot the ball and run, and that doesn’t work for me. Kristi, that technical style is her style of play.” 

White also said she got the best vibe from her camp with the UVM team, finding her teammates very comforting and welcoming, and Huizenga very knowledgeable. 

“She knew what she was doing,” White said. “Looking back on it (when I verbally committed) I made the right choice, totally.” 

At 5’4”, White is not a big player, but she is very skilled, has a terrific first step and is possesses quick bursts of speed. She was asked if her size is a drawback as her college career looms. 

“I play bigger than I actually am,” she said. “Every time someone knocks me down, it’s a foul, because I usually go down easily. In college, I’ll probably put on muscle and get a little bigger, but I don’t see [my size] as a problem, no.” 

Her dad said, pound for pound, Olivia is average size and on track to continue improving. 

“Combine that with her incredible balance and her speed of play, compared to national team players, at the high level, they don’t care, as long as you get the job done,” he said. 

While the OV girls varsity soccer team finished 4-9-1 on the season, White said the record was deceiving. He noted that the team moved from playing Division 3 to Division 2, which is more challenging and competitive. And then there were the close ones. 

“We had the lead in five games that we lost,” he said. 

White did her part, scoring 50 goals and had 18 assists in the last two seasons over 28 games. It helps that she plays all over, forward, midfield and defense. 

In two high school seasons, White was nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year, has made All State, Addison Independent Player of the Year, Top Drawer Soccer Fall State Stars, MVP, All Marble Valley League and will play for Vermont’s Twin State team this summer vs. New Hampshire. 

But White is a hard worker off the field as well. A member of the National Honor Society, she maintains a 4.0 grade point average and works in the afterschool programs at the Neshobe School and Lothrop Elementary School. During the summer, you can find White working in the Neshobe SOAR program and coaching at youth soccer camps. 

But after the hype and the announcement and the anticipation of her college soccer career, White said that she loved playing on the OV team with friends she’s known since elementary school. 

She thanked her friends, her family and the OV administration for helping her get where she is. 

“I definitely have to thank OV very being so flexible,” she said. “I had to travel three times for weeklong soccer tournaments, and all of my teachers were understanding and they made sure I got my assignments. [Principal] Jim Avery was very kind and flexible.” 

With that, White looks to her immediate future and beyond, with eyes on making the U.S. women’s national team. 

And if White has a mantra, it may be this sentiment, which is working for her so far: 

“Always get better.” 

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